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Flu sends three times more people to hospital

Posted at 10:45 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 01:04:52-05

DENVER -- There is a good reason is may seem like half the people you know have the flu. State health official say Colorado has three to four times more hospitalizations from the flu than usual.

The Colorado Flu Report states 566 people have been hospitalized this flu season, which is up from about 150 on average by mid-December, according to the state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

Herlihy said the H3N2 strain is particularly severe and has resulted in more hospitalizations, especially for older people, who are often sent to the hospital because of trouble breathing or a fever that won't go away.

"You're feeling fine, you're feeling fine and then 'boom,'" said Dr. Michelle Barron, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at University of Colorado Hospital. "You have fever. You have body aches. You might have a cough that develops or a sore throat, and you feel pretty wiped out." 

To make matters worse, this year's season is peaking early, just in time for the holidays with relatives young and old.

Barrons said if you're sick, stay home and video chat with your family.

"Do you want to be the reason grandpa died?" asked Barron. "If you really think you have the flu, going to see your grandparents or seeing children that are very young is probably not advisable. Exposing them could truly put them in the hospital and potentially cause them to die and you don’t want to have that on your conscience." 

It is not too late to get the flu shot, but it takes two weeks before it's fully effective. While doctors say the flu shot is never perfect, it can still reduce the severity and the length of the sickness.  

Health officials said the flu season is far from over, and with an early spike, there is frequently a second wave of the virus later in the season.